Respecting the awesome power of words!

Posts tagged “inspiration

The Beginning Is Near

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To genuinely observe Advent,
without being pulled
into the cultural tsunami
of commercial Christmas,
is to participate
in the eternal plan of Grace.

It is to rest in the promise
of divine deliverance
with at least a modicum
of hope that the gift will arrive,
not only with more
than sufficient efficacy,
but also before
the nick of time.

It is to admit
that we are fully incapable
of generating the gift
of incarnation on our own,
and we are therefore
entirely dependent
on both God's mercy and timing.

It is, at one and the same time,
both an exhilarating journey
and a risky adventure.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 

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Revolutionary

zrevolutionary

 

Poetry, like parable,
  is a powerful strain
   of subversive resistance.

        In parable, most often,
      by the powers
    of familiarity and comfort,
  we are lulled into sidling up
to prophetic truth
  with no more hesitation
    or anxiety than a carefree child
      lounging in the autumn grass
        with a magnifying glass
      or a beloved, snoozing family pet.

    Poetry seduces us,
  by a trinity of brevity,
wherein we find
  both breathing room
    and a niche for inserting
      our own narrative;

        simplicity, refreshing us like
      a summer rain shower;

    and a turn of phrase,
  opening neural pathways
of imagination we’ve either
  long-forgotten or never knew existed.

    Our first few encounters
      with these radical forms
        of blood-fueled ink
      can be chalked up
    to inexperience or naïveté.

  Eventually, however,
we will probably have to admit
  that something deep within
    hungers for such
      a revolutionary soirée.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Live It

fallA sermon riff on Matthew 23:1-12

 

The Pharisees’ talk 
is miles ahead of their walk,
their show far outpaces their go,
a saint is one thing they ain't.

Jesus differentiates between
the ones who are just
a flash in their own pan
and the ones the light shines through.

They're only platitudes
when our speaking
of them far exceeds
our living of them;

when what we say
is incongruent
with what we live;

when the verbal art
we paint is light years
beyond the canvas
of our ways;

when our talk and walk
are a bait and switch;
when we voice grace
but breathe fear.

The Communion of Saints includes
all those who ask forgiveness
when they live transactionally;
all those who choose
to see beyond binary thinking;
all those who find ways
to allow the transformational power
of grace to both enter in and pour out
of their broken, cracked places.

When the power of resurrection
seeps into our brokenness
at all the thin places
and thin times of our lives,

it is so radical and transformational
that the transactional world
cannot deal with it.

We begin to let go of all the pretending,
all the perfection, comparison, competition,
scarcity, fear, blaming, hoarding, ego;
all of the things by which
we had been controlled.

We begin to play by different rules.
The old rules, hard and fast
as they are, become insignificant;
not because we are above them,
but because we have been
moved beyond them.

We can no longer see and act
in binary fashion, checking off lists
of things we will or won't do
because they are right or wrong.

We are both under the control
of and set free by something
much bigger than law.

We are living through Love,
which turns out to be a messy,
complicated rule that refuses
to be exclusively held by anyone
or nailed to any particular place or time.

This Love is a gift.
We didn't earn it.
We don't own it.
We can't choose who deserves it,
because nobody does,
including us.

Yet it's been given to us anyway;
not just parceled out to us stingily,
but poured out on us extravagantly;

given to us so that
we can let its gift and power
soak all the way
to the marrow of our bones,

flushing out all hurt and hatred,
and all other lies of "not enough"
all falsehoods of “not good enough”;

given to us so that
we can reflect it to others;
so that we can share it
with everyone we meet.

Unlike all that other stuff
that controlled us,
this Love shrinks and dies
when we try to hoard it,
but grows and blossoms
when we give it away.

This is our mission –
our life's purpose
from this day forward –

to let the rule of Love
free us to respond with grace,
not because anyone has earned it,
but because we are all
dying without it.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Yarn

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Story is neither magic
nor medicinal,
in and of itself.

It is simply a way
of connecting yesterday's thread
of existence with today's,
laying groundwork
for the possibility of tomorrow.

It can be weaponized,
like most any tool,
when the tales told come
from a single source,
and one that’s oblivious
to every character but self.

If you want to feel
its purest form,
let a child spin you
yarns of truth formed
in the crucible
of innocence and vulnerability.

Then, you'll understand
the lines on which
the world turns.  

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


Now Is the Time

IMG_7219Now Is the Time

There lies deep within 
  the human heart — yours,
    mine, and everyone else's — 
      a vision and desire 
    for how life is supposed 
  to be lived;

images of connection 
  without coercion, 
    dreams of enough 
      without competition, 
    hunger for community 
  without uniformity,

thirst for intimacy 
  without betrayal, 
    hope for understanding 
      without judgment, 
    longing for love 
  without condition.

All this is within us; 
  divine spark planted 
    before we were born.

There is but one impediment 
  to our bringing this vision 
    to life: fear.

Fear is a liar.

That is why so many stories
  of divine encounter begin
    with the holy plea, 
      "Fear not!"

Now is the time for us 
  to live from a deep place; 
    to rise up to the grace 
      for which we were created.

Now is the time for hope 
  to reveal the strong roots 
    she has sunk 
      in communities of faith, 
    to nourish our courage.

Now is the time.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins


Church Whisperer?

zchurchwhisperer

There’s a certain range
of sociocultural behavior
and interaction that’s healthy.
Venturing too far from it
risks isolation and estrangement.

Growl at or feel threatened by guests?
Bark at every unexpected sound,
cowering in fear behind
a facade of bravado,
biting even the hand
that feeds you
when you’re surprised?
Constantly and inappropriately
marking territory?

Three questions,
regularly whispered
on the linear plane,
help identify areas
for examination:
What are we (not) doing?
Why are we (not) doing it?
How’s that working out for us?

The foundational whispers,
however, are neither
horizontal, nor sounded
across human vocal chords;
but vertical, and received
into human hearts:

Why were you placed
into this time and space?
Toward what and whom
are you being called
by love and grace?

We are created, then,
less as church whisperers,
than those to and through whom
the divine whispers.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Weeping

zweeping

While Ezra prayed and made confession, 
weeping and throwing himself down 
before the house of God, 
a very great assembly of men, 
women, and children gathered 
to him out of Israel; 
the people also wept bitterly. 
[Ezra 10:1]

In weeping, our hearts
are wrung out
of all that stands
between us and our true selves,
between us and our neighbors,
between us and God.

In every province, 
wherever the king’s command 
and his decree came, 
there was great mourning 
among the Jews, with fasting 
and weeping and lamenting, 
and most of them lay 
in sackcloth and ashes.
[Esther 4:3]

Our squeezed-out spirits
can then absorb the gifts
we need for the lives
to which we’ve been called.

Jesus began to weep.
[John 11:35]

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

Eternity

zeternity-ashley goadPhoto by Ashley Goad

 

The church marquee read,
"We will all have eternal life.
Where will you choose
to spend yours?"

as if either eternity itself,
or the choice we make
regarding it, or both, are located
somewhere in the (distant?) future.

Eternity is not just
a future proposition.

By definition, it extends
in both directions across
the time continuum for infinity,
beginning long before any
of us breathed our first,
and continuing long after any
of us breathe our last. 

The more relevant question, then,
is not how WILL we spend eternity,
but how ARE we already spending
the part of it during which
we have life and breath?

We can accept judgmentalism and fear,
or we can choose grace and hope.

One choice feels like hell’s death
already sucking the life out of us;
the other, like paradise
being born, day by day. 

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

 


Beat

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Why is grace so difficult
to accept unconditionally?

  Because we know, too well,
  the difference between
  who we are on the inside
  and the image we project
  for sociocultural, economic,
  and religious acceptance
  on the outside.

    Because our small worldview
    and our limited understanding
    of the universe's sacred narrative
    cause us to accept scarcity
    as more plausible than abundance.

  Because comparison and competition
  have been deeply ground
  into our psyches.

Without grace,
we are one slip-up,
one wrong turn,
one moment of exhaustion,
one hesitation,
one secret revealed,
from relegation to the heap
of the also ran and
the obviously unworthy.

With grace,
by grace,
through grace,
we are finally and fully free
to abandon ourselves
to the beating of hearts
and the breath of stories –
ours and everyone else's.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins

All in

zallin

Pray with your mouth,
pray with your feet,
pray on the rooftop,
pray in the street.

Pray 'til the end,
pray from the start,
pray with your hands,
pray with your heart.

Pray with your money,
pray with your boat,
pray with your muscle,
pray with your vote.

Pray with your breathing,
pray with your mind,
pray with your stories,
pray with anything you find.

Pray out of the water,
pray out of the air,
wherever and whatever,
make sure it's all prayer.

Pray when you arrive,
pray while you're on the way;
with all your being and doing,
always and forever, pray.

© 2017 Todd Jenkins